We can play away from home!
Our first three trips away from the friendly confines had been truly dire, so it was really enjoyable to watch us have some success last night.
We jumped out to an 8-4 lead and generally kept things close for the opening six minutes... but then it hit. The dreaded “first half implosion” that has submarined every effort away from home. We went ice cold (2-13) right as the Bulldogs strung a few shots together, and the end result was a 17-3 run that looked awfully, awfully familiar. We held our nerve to keep the deficit at ten points, but the writing was on the wall. Or so we thought.
Halftime Score: MSU 33, Texas A&M 23
Maybe the writing wasn’t on the wall. Or rather, maybe it was on the wall but we took a fire hose to that sucker and wiped it clean. Whatever the method, we came out of the gates on fire. We won the battle for every loose ball, we rebounded well on both ends, and the shooters stuck their good looks. One 13-0 run later, we had a 40-40 ballgame on our hands.
We allowed MSU to rebuild a six point advantage approaching the five minute mark, but we again responded well with a burst of energy (and shooting) at exactly the right time. Three hollow MSU possessions (a turnover and two offensive fouls) were met with immediate responses (A Flagg breakaway dunk, a Gordon alley oop, and a Gordon three), and that sealed the game.
I’m forced to note that it didn’t “seal the game” in the sense that we made every correct move over the last 90 seconds to ensure victory. Rather, we made a handful of mistakes over the last 90 seconds and MSU couldn’t capitalize. But who cares. I’ll take a dozen more just like it.
Final Score: Texas A&M 56, Mississippi State 55
What an effort. What a balanced effort. Our Achilles heel (who’s going to take over late?) became our strength (Ha, you don’t know who’s going to take over late!) on a night where six players scored between 5 and 12 points. This week’s late game heroics went to Andre Gordon and Emanuel Miller; but Jackson, Chandler, Aku, and Diarra all had significant buckets that kept us afloat at just the right time.
Next up is a visit from the Missouri Tigers, who just lost to this very same Bulldog squad by 15.